Bob Lee: how new details turned a tech-industry murder case upside down

One month after the alleged killer appeared in court, Bob Lee, the founder of Cash App, was found stabbed on the streets of San Francisco.

Nima Momeni, a 38-year-old tech entrepreneur who allegedly had a personal connection with Lee, will face charges of murder in San Francisco. This highly publicized case has captivated the tech industry and ignited discussions about crime in the city of California.

In downtown San Francisco, Lee was found with multiple stab wounds in the early morning hours of April 4th, following a void of information and a lack of arrest speculation, which intensified the discourse over crime, drug use, homelessness, and the act of random violence.

The discussion of crime has shifted since Sister Momeni’s fatal showdown with Lee’s, revealing a dispute between two acquaintances that allegedly resulted in a stabbing. This narrative soon emerged, upending the high-flying world of tech executives and leading to rampant whispers of drug use.

Here is the chronological sequence leading to Momeni’s arraignment, and the information we currently have.

An evolving narrative

The world of tech was stunned by the news that Lee, 43, had been found on a sidewalk in San Francisco’s Rincon Hill neighborhood with multiple stab wounds, and later taken to a hospital where he died.

Bob Lee. Photograph: MobileCoin

The state of San Francisco is frequently criticized for its high-profile cases of retail crime, drug use, and significant wealth inequality – aspects that many people hastily judged after the killing took place.

Incidents in Los Angeles where a woman was “essentially stabbed for no reason by a deranged homeless individual” were compared by capitalist David Sacks to the demise in his popular All In podcast. Billionaire Elon Musk, who recently assumed control of the San Francisco-based Twitter, tweeted that violent crime in the city had become “horrifying” and alleged, without providing evidence, that violent offenders “are frequently released immediately”. A companion of Lee, former UFC fighter Jake Shields, asserted that the founder had been singled out in a random robbery. In spite of statistics indicating a decrease in overall violent crime in the city, headlines and tweets about the crisis persisted. “Screw San Francisco,” he tweeted.

Shields stated that it doesn’t matter if Bob knew his murderer, as it does not solve the crime issue in San Francisco. Musk and others refused to take back their remarks about the city. Those opinions were silenced when the reality came to light – that Lee had been singled out by someone he knew.

The truth about Lee’s demise is beginning to appear much more sensational.

It was suggested that Momeni was preoccupied with his sister’s drug potential, but it was unclear if Elyassnia Khazar and Lee were having an affair. Court documents said that the couple, who has been featured in lifestyle magazines, had a glamorous marriage. In 2013, Elyassnia, a well-known plastic surgeon in the Bay Area, married the 37-year-old Momeni. Now, Elyassnia has become a key figure in the case, with prosecutors saying that the fatal altercation centered around his relationship with Lee, his sister’s Momeni.

According to court filings, Momeni went to Lee’s hotel room where he demanded to know if Lee had been doing drugs or engaging in any inappropriate activities. Lee and Momeni had previously spent time together in an apartment, and the day before the stabbing incident, Lee confronted Momeni about his relationship with Elyassnia.

Officials said that Elyassnia sent a text to Lee after the argument, referencing the dispute and asking if it was okay for him to handle it on behalf of the executive, because her brother came down hard on him.

Khazar Elyassnia, left, stands in the Hall of Justice in San Francisco on 14 April, ahead of an appearance by her brother, Nima Momeni, who has been charged with murder in the death of tech entrepreneur Bob Lee. Photograph: Olga R Rodriguez/AP

He drove Momeni to a secluded and dark spot where he attacked him with a kitchen knife, stabbing him three times including once in the heart. Prosecutors say that Momeni then sped away, leaving the victim to die slowly. Security footage shows Lee and Momeni leaving the building together on the night of the stabbing, getting into Momeni’s BMW around 2am.

Momeni, who was taken into custody at his residence in Emeryville on 13 April, has been detained without bail since then. A knife covered in blood was discovered in the vicinity. Lee was found injured by San Francisco police at 2.35am.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Lee, the tech entrepreneur, had alcohol, cocaine, and ketamine present in his body when he passed away at the hospital prior to doctors’ attempts to rescue him during a lengthy operation. The autopsy findings confirmed this.

The key players

In 2013, Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, founded an App called Square Cash, which is a well-known payment platform in the tech circles of the Bay Area. He was a popular and successful entrepreneur at the age of 43.

Recently, he moved back to Miami from San Francisco for business. At the time of his death, Lee had become an executive at MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency startup.

According to his LinkedIn, Momeni has gained experience as a consultant and system engineer in various technology companies and also served as the proprietor of ExpandIT, an IT consulting firm located in the Bay-area.

Charges were dropped for carrying a switchblade in his car, and he took a plea for driving with a suspended license, but he was arrested in 2011 for carrying a knife. Neighbors of Momeni told the Daily Beast that the suspect kept multiple knives and guns at home and was known as the “super weapons” guy.

The emerging details in the case have lifted the veil on what’s been described as a party-heavy lifestyle in the elite tech scene of San Francisco. Prior to them drinking together, there had been reports of heavy drug use and a fatal altercation. According to a familiar witness, Lee was known as a “good person” with no known enemies, and he had two children.

The San Francisco Standard reported that Lee and Elyassnia additionally visited a suspected narcotics distributor’s residence prior to the confrontation. A friend of Lee informed the publication that he unfortunately had a propensity for drug consumption.

GBL (a substance resembling the date rape drug GHB), LSD, and MDMA, along with other substances, were confiscated during the raids that led to the apprehension of the suspected drug trafficker whose residence they raided in 2022 on charges of possessing a controlled substance with the intention to distribute.

Paula Canny, an attorney for defense team, was actively investigating the background of all parties involved in the incident before the common theme that “illegal heavy narcotics use” emerged. I’m seeing that the use of illegal heavy narcotics is a prevalent issue.

Flowers in front of the building outside of which Bob Lee was found fatally stabbed in San Francisco. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

The aftermath

Despite investigations uncovering that Lee was probably aware of his assailant, the story regarding crime and deterioration in San Francisco continues.

Recent reports say that the bustling downtown of the previously vibrant city has entered a “doom loop,” as the cost of living continues to rise due to the powerful and ongoing flood of fentanyl and other such drugs. These crises have intensified in recent months and years, fueling each other but also separate and interconnected, as San Franciscans struggle with drug abuse and homelessness, all exacerbated by a lack of public resources.

Brooke Jenkins, the district attorney’s office, stated that if found guilty, Momeni could potentially receive a sentence of 26 years to life imprisonment. Furthermore, he is scheduled to make a court appearance for arraignment on Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, Momeni can be observed approaching Lee after allegedly stabbing him. The video, which is crucial to the case, shows the two individuals driving to a location beneath the bridge. The specific details of the accusations remain unclear, as Canny, the attorney, informed reporters. It is anticipated that Momeni will plead not guilty and request bail during the proceedings, as stated by his attorney.

She expressed doubt about the visibility of anything in the videos. “Without a doubt, the plea will be one of not guilty,” and he intends to refute the special allegation and enter a plea of not guilty,” he stated.

The Associated Press provided the report.